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Alberta 55 Plus Games a great way to stay active

Being active is important. And it is just as important for older people as it is for younger generations.

Being active is important.

And it is just as important for older people as it is for younger generations. At least, that is the attitude of Hazel Heistad, Lacombe director for the Alberta 55 Plus Games.

Heistad said it is important for people of all ages to be active, or at least get out and mingle with others.

“I like being involved in things,” said Heistad. “I don’t like sitting around doing nothing.”

Heistad first got involved in the 55 Plus Summer Games in 1994 playing horseshoes. She went to the first national competition that was held in Regina in 1996 and has been to every provincial event she could make it to.

The Alberta 55 Plus Games are held every other year on odd numbered years. Participants compete in zones in order to qualify for the provincial competition.

On even numbered years, a national competition is also held, she said.

She added that participants in the national competition do not necessarily need to qualify, but they are responsible for getting themselves to the games.

The 55 Plus Games include a wide variety of events, said Heistad. These include traditional track and field style sports like javelin as well as less popular sports like bocce and timed walking.

Non-sporting events, like card games, are also included, added Heistad. It was Heistad’s brother who first got her interested in playing horseshoes back in 1981.

Up until her brother died a few years ago, the two of them would travel around competing in several different competitions. Eventually, that led them to the 55 Plus Games and Heistad has been involved ever since.

She said she got involved with them from an organizational standpoint kind of by accident. Having more knowledge of the game horseshoes than some of the organizers at the events she competed in, Heistad often stepped in to give a helping hand. Some organizers of the 55 Plus Games got wind of this and asked if she wouldn’t mind helping in a more formal capacity.

While Heistad’s event is horseshoes, she organizes a number of others. She said that directors change which events they organize each year based on the requirements of the competitions. Heistad added she has been a director for the games for the past three or four years.

This year’s provincial summer games will be held next month in Westlock and Barrhead. Heistad said that most of the qualifying competition has been completed and there are at least six individuals from Lacombe participating in provincials. While provincials are in northern Alberta this year, Heistad said there is a few other events happening in Central Alberta in the near future. A challenge cup for zone four (which Lacombe is part of) will be held on July 10 and an arts and crafts competition is also being held in Mirror this weekend.